About Copyright

Copyright protects authors of original works and gives them control over how their works are used. These works may be books, articles, musical compositions or recordings, paintings, movies, and other forms of expression. Works need not be published to be protected by copyright law – they are covered by copyright as soon as they are written, recorded, or otherwise finished.

Copyright law covers works from big-budget movies to blog posts and journal entries.

There are specific limits to the duration of copyright protections and some exceptions listed in the law to allow limited use without permission of some works (see the Fair Use section below), but in general, reproducing or distributing works covered by copyright law without permission is illegal. Downloading a song from a peer-to-peer website is considered making an unauthorized copy of that song, and breaks copyright law. Photocopying a chapter from a textbook to avoid the cost of purchasing said textbook also goes contrary to the law.

For more information about copyright, see the U.S. Copyright Office website or read their summary Copyright Basics publication.

The Fair Use Doctrine

Some exceptions are allowed in copyright law for special use of copyrighted materials that might otherwise be considered infringing. Fair Use is highly applicable in an academic situation, as it is what allows for the quotation of copyrighted works in scholarly writing.

The U.S. Copyright Office explains Fair Use on their website at There, they cite a report that gives specific examples of appropriate Fair Uses of copyrighted material (quoted below):

The 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law cites examples of activities that courts have regarded as fair use: “quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author’s observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported.”

Fair Use is defined in relatively loose terms and defines specific factors to be considered when determining if a given use falls under the Fair Use protections. These factors are (taken directly from section 107 of the Title 17 Copyright Law):

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Factor 4 is of particular interest: distributing a photocopy of a textbook chapter, if it would negatively impact the sales of that textbook as a result, would not fall under Fair Use as a result of this criteria.

The University of Minnesota Libraries website lists a number of scenarios that may help to understand the boundaries of Fair Use.

Copyrights and Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file sharing

Peer-to-peer file sharing enables individuals to share files directly between their computers without the use of a central server. Rather than placing a file on a server, then directing another person to that centralized server, peer-to-peer services use a variety of technologies to facilitate the distribution of files directly between computers, often enabling the download of a given file from multiple hosts to increase the download speed.

Though peer-to-peer technology is not inherently illegal (a number of computer game developers now use peer-to-peer technology to distribute patches, thereby reducing the load on their own servers), the technology became widely associated with “free music” as the various P2P clients became popular tools for the illegal download of music and other copyrighted works.

We have chosen to, in as much as it is possible for us, block all peer-to-peer technologies on campus, primarily due to copyright concerns, but also to limit rampant misuse of our network bandwidth. If an individual needs P2P technology for an academic purpose, they can contact the Director of IT. Accommodations may be made, but will likely involve some degree of monitoring of P2P usage.

Actions Taken to Prevent Copyright Infringement

In order to combat potential illegal distribution of copyrighted material through the campus network, we use the following:

  • We utilize firewall rules to block the use of most peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing clients. In some cases, we are unable to block the traffic outright and instead limit it to the slowest speed possible, effectively rendering it useless.
  • Using our campus firewall, we block inbound network connections to all hosts except very specific College-owned servers. This prohibits the use of servers on client computers on the campus network.
  • We accept and respond to any DMCA notifications we receive according to our DMCA notifications policy.

Legal Alternatives

There are an increasing number of legal alternatives to peer-to-peer file sharing for acquiring copyrighted works. Educause has developed a publicly available, comprehensive list of such legal alternatives at the following website:

Penalties for Violating Copyright

Should an individual be found to be violating copyright using Crown's network or technology resources, they will face penalties as laid out in thepenalties policy.

In addition to the institutional penalties, it should be noted that civil and criminal penalties may also apply should Federal Copyright Laws be violated:

Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner under section 106 of the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code). These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute a copyrighted work. In the file-sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement.

Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or “statutory” damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For “willful” infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys' fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505.

Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense.

For more information, please see the Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office at, especially their FAQ's

Periodic Assessment of this Policy

The Director of IT will review this policy to ensure that it is in line with best practices as determined by comparing and contrasting it with other institutions policies. Based on those findings, revisions to the policy will be made.

During this review, logs from the firewall and content filter will also be analyzed to determine if changes are required to continue to block peer-to-peer usage on campus.